Staff of the Public Health Department on Wednesday attended a one-day workshop on the prevention, management and control of rodents.
The main objective of the workshop is to control the spread of new and recurring vector borne diseases including chikungunya, dengue, and leptospirosis.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, Chief Health Education Officer Neri James, highlighted the important role of his staff to ensure that vectors do not interfere with the lives and livelihoods of Vincentians.
He noted that the Public Health Department deals with infectious diseases related to mosquitoes and rodents and reiterated that rodents pose threats to humans as they can transmit up to 35 diseases. Therefore, the workshop serves as a means of equipping the staff in dealing with vector control. Infectious disease control expert and dacilitator, Dr. Chris Frederickson, stated that the workshop includes several interactive activities to draw out the experiences of participants. Frederickson said participants will understand what rodents do, their weak points, and the best ways they can control them. He said that participants would have opportunities to highlight some of the vector control problems in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and possible solutions.
Senior Health Officer Todd Lewis stated that rodent control has been a major challenge for the Environmental Health Department over the years. Past attempts at rodent control have been unsuccessful despite numerous initiatives to combat vectors, he said.
He pointed out that Rodents pose serious threats to the tourism and the agricultural industries and the health and wellbeing of all Vincentians.
He said an integrated framework is the only approach to consistently control and prevent the infestation of rodents and their associated diseases.
The components of an integrated framework to reduce vector populations include: cultural, mechanical, physical, and biological control.
To this end, Lewis emphasized that the ministry is working proactively to control the spread of rodents in the country.
Rodent surveillance, disease surveillance, environmental management, inspection of food establishments, baiting, and sensitization workshops are some of the approaches that will be taken to control and manage rodents.